Archive | June, 2012

Things turn out best…

30 Jun

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”

 ~ Art Linkletter

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The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts

29 Jun

 

Caney Paxton is man who went off to Vietnam and returned home in a wheelchair.  Feeling ashamed for his part in the war and dealing with nightmares and loneliness, he hasn’t left his Sequoyah, Oklahoma café in 12 years.  Known as The Honk and Holler Opening Soon (thanks to a sign-maker’s error) the café is filled with just the kind of characters you would expect for a restaurant of its type and location.  The book starts out around Christmastime in 1985 and for Caney and waitress Molly O, who helped raise him, the holiday looks anything but merry.  Business is slow, bills are piling up and Molly O is worried about her rebellious teenage daughter, Brenda, a country musician seeking her fortune in Nashville. 

Things change when luck brings the Honk and Holler two new employees: beautiful young Crow Indian drifter Vena Takes Horse, who arrives carrying only a severely injured dog and a backpack, who signs on as a carhop, and Vietnamese refugee Bui Khanh, a handyman running from a guilty secret of his own. Initially reluctant to trust the two outsiders, the Honk and Holler’s regulars come to value Vena and Bui, especially after an act of violence threatens Bui’s life.

Like a lot of books of this type, these characters have lived complex lives with many hurdles to overcome and you root for their success every time you turn the page.  The setting for this simple story captivates you with love, hope and humanity and leaves you with a sense of community and support.

It was a fun little book that my friend Monique gave me late one night when I called out of desperation for something to read.  As you know, I need to be reading something all the time.  I had finished our book club selection, Wildflower Hill and it was going to be at least a week before I started the new book club book and I couldn’t wait.  I’m so lucky to have a friend to who indulges me with late hour book requests.

The reason…

28 Jun

“The reason it is so difficult to make ends meet is because someone is always moving the ends.”

  ~ Anonymous

Whenever you’re in conflict…

27 Jun

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it.  That factor is attitude.”

  ~  William James

 

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

27 Jun

Wildflower Hill is a touching tale about Beattie and her granddaughter Emma.  Two women living in different decades but whose lives are strongly intertwined. Beattie was a Scottish immigrant who moved to Tasmania, Australia, at the start of the Great Depression. The book goes back and forth between each woman’s stories thus allowing you to get to know each of them individually and through each other’s eyes.

Beattie’s struggles begin when she is young, falling in love with a dashing married man. When she finds herself pregnant and without support from Henry, her mother throws her out. Now completely alone, she goes to a home for unmarried women. Her shame is great, but when Henry appears, her faith is renewed. Together they run off and begin to make a new life with their infant daughter, Lucy. Soon enough Henry begins a downward spiral by drowning his troubles with liquor and squandering his pay before any bills can be paid.  Beattie finally reaches her limit of his irresponsible behavior and abuse and takes Lucy and escapes.

Someone had told her once that “there are two types of women in the world…those who do things, and those who have things done to them.” As a poor, unwed mother, she kept that thought in the forefront of her mind as she struggled against poverty and prejudice. Against insurmountable odds, she became the owner of a prosperous sheep farm in rural Tasmania, though it was not without great hardship and heartache. 

All the while, Henry has gotten his life back on track and reconciles with his wife.  He tracks down Beattie and comes for Lucy. Beattie agrees to split custody with them, even though it breaks her heart and causes much confusion for Lucy. Beattie’s story continues with more twists and troubling turns, but finding her greatest love helps her to see what’s really important in life.

Set in London 2009, Emma’s story is effortlessly woven in with Beattie’s. Emma is a world-renowned prima ballerina proud of her success but never realizing how it had totally consumed her life until a knee injury put an end to her career.  Left with no other options, she returns home to Sydney. There she learns she has inherited the sheep farm in Tasmania that her grandmother ran in the 1930s. Beattie had not been there for many years and used the place for storage, so Emma decides to head south to clean out the place in order to sell it. Upon arrival she finds boxes and boxes full of Beattie’s old possessions, including letters, photos and business records. As Emma sorts through everything, she slowly uncovers family secrets buried for decades.  All pieces of a puzzle she can’t seem to reconnect.  She makes new friends, helps a studio of girls with special needs with ballet and begins to find herself again.  Or maybe for the first time.

Ms. Freeman does a great job developing not only her main characters but her minor ones as well. She gives us an authentic feel for both London and Tasmanian society in the 1930s. You’ll come to love characters like Charlie, Mina and Mikhail and will struggle with Margaret, Raphael and Tillie. Wildflower Hill is a lovely read, difficult to put down, once begun.  And one I highly recommend.

There are no words…

25 Jun

“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally.  It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two.  But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.”

  ~ JK Chesterton

(The Human Race)…

14 Jun

“(The Human Race), in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon ~ laughter.  Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution ~ these can lift a colossal humbug…but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast.  Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

  ~ Mark Twain

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